Before the final Grand Slam of the year began at Flushing Meadows this year, all the talk was about the dominance of Andy Murray and the injury troubles of Novak Djokovic. Yet, as thousands of fans exit the gates at Arthur Ashe, chat amongst people is now leaning towards the emergence of the “Big 5”. Stanislas Wawrinka powered past Novak with an astonishing display of shot-making in 4 sets to win his 3rd major title. Now, having the same number of majors as Andy Murray, Stan must be considered in that echelon of player and should be treated with that type of respect. Yet, it all depends on how he wants to play with his Yonex racquet.
He is at his best when least expected
Even with obvious talent and skill, Stan has been overlooked throughout his career when it comes to being classed as one of the favourites in the major tournaments. Part of this is down to being in the shadow of Roger Federer, but also due to his lack of consistent results. Outstanding results are followed by strange, error strewn performances very shortly after. In the tournaments leading up to his 3 Grand Slam triumphs, it would be an understatement to say his performances have been disappointing. However, this puts him under the radar and it may be that he enjoys being away from the limelight. In the final rounds of the tournament, he seems to come into his own and enters a zone that quite frankly, no other #Tennis player on this planet can survive in. His overpowering style and beautiful backhand have been critical to his success in the last three years.
His career path has been uniquely different
With many tennis players, from an early age, one can make a judgement on how their career will pan out. Of course there will be outliers, but more often than not, the judgement will be accurate. The likes of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray were all destined to become champion players, whereas players such as Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are assumed to never be able to win on the major stage. A similar outlook could have been placed on Stan Wawrinka’s career before 2013. A perennial top 20 player, a beautiful backhand, but simply not the mental strength to challenge the best. With Magnus Norman in his corner, he endured two heartbreaking losses against Novak in Melbourne and New York, but he became a real threat. Since then, the world has seen his enduring qualities of power and talent.
Can he continue his glorious run?
With victory on Sunday night, Wawrinka won his 3rd major title in as many years. Not one person on this planet would have expected that, least of all Stan himself. The remarkable rise of his career in his 30s simply reinstates that anything is possible. With this latest surprise victory, one would be foolish to bet against Stan winning another major and it may even be at Wimbledon next year to complete the whole set of titles. A criticism of Stan has been his lack of consistency throughout the year, with several shock results being ever present in his years on the tour. This may be the reason he is not treated with the same aura as the Big 4. It will certainly be fascinating whether he has the drive to be consistent, but so long as he is playing, we fans will always have the chance to see a breathtaking performance.
As his victory cements his place in the year ending ATP World Tour Finals, people will hope this is just the beginning of a period of sustained success for a nice guy on the tour.